Bodybuilding contest in rebel-held Idlib with volunteer capabilities and under supervision of an independent committee

A participant in a local bodybuilding and fitness contest in Salqin, north of Idlib - 12 September 2020 (Amer Sayed Ali)

A participant in a local bodybuilding and fitness contest in Salqin, north of Idlib - 12 September 2020 (Amer Sayed Ali)


Enab Baladi – Idlib

The bombardment, displacement, and unstable conditions have not prevented the 30-year-old bodybuilder, Nawras al-Falih, from performing a bodybuilding exercises and participating in the tournaments conducted by the Union Committee of Northern Clubs in Idlib governorate and parts of the western countryside of Aleppo that are under the opposition’s control.  

The Body Building Championship was held, on 12 September, in Sarmada, north of Idlib, for men and youth groups, with the participation of 49 bodybuilders from 18 clubs.

Al-Falih, a son of the city of Ariha, south of Idlib, won the championship title, in the governorate for five consecutive years. He got first place in the Damascus Countryside Championship before 2011. Al-Falih did not quit his passion for bodybuilding, which he started in 2007 when he was only 17 years old and was a participant in the last championship.

Bodybuilder Nawras al-Falih told Enab Baladi that organizing bodybuilding championships after nearly ten years of war is essential for the Syrian public to see that there are bodybuilders who can compete nationally and internationally, despite the difficulties they face from bad financial conditions in some cases.

The economic conditions affect adversely the bodybuilders in Idlib; they are dispensing with some expensive foods, according to al-Falih, who works as a coach in a club in the region, which helps him to secure some of the daily needs of bodybuilding.

An independent committee organizes annual tournaments

The Northern Clubs Union Committee was established in January 2017, after splits occurred among athletes, as a result of the so-called salvation government’s control over Idlib governorate and parts of the western countryside of Aleppo, since mid-2017, and the diminishing role of the “interim government” in the region.

The members of the committee changed the name from the Federation of Bodybuilding and Physical Strength to the “Northern Clubs Union Committee,” so that they would not be bothered or harmed by any party, and they had previously been with “the Syrian Authority for Sports and Youth.”

Currently, the “Northern Clubs Union Committee,” is an independent federation that does not belong to any government or internal or external sports body. The committee receives no support, and its members work voluntarily, Samer Zaidan, the head of the “Northern Clubs Union Committee,” told Enab Baladi. 

Following the restructuring process, the committee prepared a volunteering free course for bodybuilding coaches and trainers. Besides, the committee developed a plan for annual physical strength and bodybuilding activities. 

In 2018, the committee conducted four physical strength activities for people with disabilities, two activities for healthy people, and in 2019, four championships for people with disabilities, four physical strength tournaments for healthy people, two men’s bodybuilding championships, and a youth championship.

In the current year, the pace of sports activities increased:  four physical strength tournaments, one for the disabled, three for the healthy (youth, men, male and female), and the bodybuilding championship.

The goal: “twinning” with the Turkish Federation

The main goal of the committee is to “twin itself” with the Turkish federation so that it can send coaches to undergo training and arbitration courses, and to send athletes to participate in Turkish activities and tournaments, even if there is no ranking or crowning.

According to the head of the “committee”, Samer Zidan, there are at least three high-level athletes who got promoted to participate in Turkish tournaments through Turkish clubs or to develop their skills in Turkey or other foreign clubs or under the banner of the International Olympic Committee.


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